Hunter’s goals bigger than win streak or beating Georgia Southern

Georgia State basketball coach Ron Hunter doesn’t want anyone to think that Thursday’s game against rival Georgia Southern is anything more than just another test.

But there is more than bragging rights at stake.

A victory would be the Panthers’ ninth consecutive, a surprising new school record for a team still learning their new coach’s systems. Hunter said a record is nice, but that’s not the motivation.

“When I was hired, no one here said, ‘Coach we brought you here to beat Georgia Southern,’ ” he said. “At the end of the day we want bigger things.”

Those bigger things include making the NCAA tournament. Hunter recognizes the rivalry between the two schools, a distant “we’re the real GSU” feud that seems to be getting more bitter now that Georgia State has football. He recognizes that his administration, Georgia State’s alumni and its fans want to beat the Eagles. He wants the win too, but he wants it so that his seniors can have another positive memory as they continue to work toward the goals.

“This is a big game for Eric Buckner, Jihad Ali and James Fields,” he said about three of the team’s six seniors. “I want them to be able to take something away. I want them to say we’ve had the longest winning streak in school history. I’m more worried about us getting better.”

The previous streak was set by the 2000-01 team, the last to make it to the NCAA tournament. It finished 29-5 under coach Lefty Driesell, advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The team has struggled since, posting just two more winning records, none since going 20-9 in 2003-04.

The players, like their coach, are trying not to get too caught up in the winning streak, what’s at stake and possibilities.

“It’s very big, but coach is constantly telling us not to think about it as a rivalry,” Devonta White said. “‘Don’t focus on the streak [focus on the goals].’”

The team’s chances of setting the mark may rest on White’s slender shoulders.

Just 5-10 and 158 pounds, White leads the team in scoring (13.1 points per game) and shot attempts (125).

A blur on the court, White races around the top of Georgia State’s preferred zone defense, or up the court in Hunter’s fast-paced offense. As subdued as Hunter is about the possibility of setting a new record streak, he’s the opposite about White’s potential.

“Devonta, when it’s said and done, may be the best player I’ve ever coached,” Hunter said.

Just a sophomore, White is still learning how to use his skills, particularly his speed. Before the Panthers played Florida International, coached by 11-time NBA all-star Isiah Thomas, Hunter talked to White about how Thomas used his speed to control games in college at Indiana and in the NBA at Detroit.

“I know Devonta can be a great player,” Hunter said. “He’s got to understand he’s going to be great. Once that happens, you won’t be able to stop Devonta.”

White said Hunter is constantly telling him to keep moving because when he moves fast, the team plays better. His scoring is a product. Playing in the more textbook style of offense favored by former coach Rod Barnes, White averaged just 5.2 points per game. Hunter’s system allows White to push the ball and find spaces on the court to shoot.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” White said. “It’s similar to my high school system [at Centennial]. It lets the players play. We get to play our game.”

– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu

57 comments Add your comment

English

December 20th, 2011
5:49 pm

Great write up Doug. Keep it up. This will be a great game. As long as we play smart basketball it won’t be close.

Go State – the Real GSU

Panama

December 20th, 2011
5:50 pm

First

Lets complete the test

Panama

December 20th, 2011
5:50 pm

Bald Eagle

December 20th, 2011
5:56 pm

Enter your comments here

Bald Eagle

December 20th, 2011
5:57 pm

i cnat figure out why my posts are not working!!! are you fake gsu fans and newpaper skeered of me and the real gsu????????

Bald Eagle

December 20th, 2011
5:59 pm

<============] things that matter to being awesome

Bald Eagle

December 20th, 2011
6:02 pm

Enter your comments here xfvdafbf

Panama

December 20th, 2011
6:06 pm

Make sure you’re in Sports Arena on Thursday at 7 :D

hammer22

December 20th, 2011
6:10 pm

@Bald Eagle,

You are an idiot.

Ball Eagle is the biggest loser!

December 20th, 2011
6:19 pm

<————————————–This

randyinsavannah

December 20th, 2011
6:24 pm

Bald Eagle, why don’t we worry about why NDSU put the smack down on our football team. Furthermore, worry about the beat down State will put on us on Thursday; and, to make matters worse, they will set a school record courtesy of Southern.

Bald Eagle

December 20th, 2011
6:30 pm

listen here you fake gsu fans!!! we are no joke down here at the real gsu…we dont play around!!! i will be at the game on thursday unless i somehow get mugged before i make it to the game and i wanna meet all you guys who are making fun of not only me but the great real gsu!!! you guys have no idear who u are messing with and you best believe all my real gsu brothers will get my back when our team rips you a new one!!! we are done tired of hearing about it down here and having our schools name dragged threw the mudd!!!

Sluggo

December 20th, 2011
6:30 pm

I agree with coach Hunter. We have bigger things ahead. A win over Georgia Southern is just like the eight wins prior. I’m not interested in a Georgia Southern rivalry.

GSU_MEX_ALUM

December 20th, 2011
6:34 pm

That’s the attitude we need from our coach. I’m really excited to see what the future holds for the GSU basketball team.

BUT we need to improve in our FT percentage. The last game was close because we missed half of them.

GO PANTHERS! MAKE IT 9!

Panther08

December 20th, 2011
7:13 pm

Great Read Doug! We are not worried about Southern…we have bigger fish to fry! #GoPanthers

ajg-marietta

December 20th, 2011
8:27 pm

Coach Ron Hunter knows how to get the best from this team. Thursday will be fun. If the team continues to take it one game at a time and plays anywhere near the way they have, they will set the new school record and give GaSo a beatdown.

But, yes, bigger thing. Bigger things indeed.

English

December 20th, 2011
10:52 pm

1 game at a time. Sorry Panama for pulling the rug right out from underneath your would be “1st” post lol.

quan

December 20th, 2011
11:51 pm

8====~~~ @baldeagle

Bald Eagle

December 21st, 2011
12:29 am

@randyinsavanahh

You sound like a fake gsu sympathiser, kinda remind me of a yankee!!! Fake gsu might as well be in a northern city with all those yankees who have done come down and run out all the true southerners!!! at least down hear at the real gsu we have plenty of true georgia men & boys that ain’t gonna let some city slickers steal our god given name!!!

GState

December 21st, 2011
9:17 am

If a team with 7 seniors can’t beat Georgia Southern, Ron Hunter should be fired.

English

December 21st, 2011
9:34 am

@ Bald Eagle – what are you talking about? Do us a favor and stay on subject – basketball.

I used to do this as a kid. You know, try to convince everyone that something didn't matter to me when it seemed unlikely before its start.

December 21st, 2011
9:49 am

<——————————————————- This.

Pennsylvania CAA Fan

December 21st, 2011
9:54 am

Is the guy with all the Yankee, city slicker posts – genuine? Local comedian? It is a put on like Larry the Cable Guy (gone bad)? Kind of sounds like a James Dickey character.

On a different note I am happy to see the solid play out of this team. I may even try to catch a Drexel or Delaware game if they are home against GSU.

Goldust

December 21st, 2011
10:00 am

Good things happening at the Sports Arena, last time Southern came in we beat them by 20. If this team continues its strong play at home, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them top that margin on Thursday.

Panama

December 21st, 2011
12:20 pm

GSU MBB Home Winning Margins This Season
vs, McNeese State 19
va. Liberty 22
vs. FIU 26
vs. William & Mary 32
vs. Rhode Island 32

STATEment

December 21st, 2011
3:15 pm

9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15…

Georgia Southern Eagle

December 21st, 2011
5:30 pm

Please don’t talk bad about each other school. We are at school to learn to be civil. I have one suggestion, why don’t Georgia State sport fan joining the Georgia Southern Eagle fans so we both can cheer for Georgia Southern sport programs.

Itsmeagain

December 21st, 2011
7:52 pm

Atlanta Native

December 21st, 2011
8:08 pm

Now, now, now. Let’s play nice. The phony GSU fans have to have something to cheer about since their football team will suck for many years to come. Besides, remember, we used to routinely beat the Panthers when we were in the TAAC many moons ago.

Bald Eagle

December 21st, 2011
8:08 pm

@transylvaniacaafan

YOU BETTER BELIEVE I AM SERIOUS!!! YOU ARE JUST A CARPETBAGGER COMING INTO THIS TRYING TO TAKE MORE AWAY FROM THE REAL GSU AND SYMPATHIZE WITH THE FAKE GSU!!! WHY DONT YOU KEEP YOUR COMMENTS UP IN NORTH WHERE THEY BELONG!!!

@GEORGIA SOUTHERN EAGLE

I AGREE THEY SHOULD ALL BE CHEERING FOR US!!! WE ARE THE ONE AND ONLY TRUE GSU TEAM!!! THE ONLY THING WE SHOULD BE CIVIL ABOUT IS TRYING TO GET ANOTHER CIVIL WAR GOING SO WE CAN KICK ALL THE DIRTY ROTTEN YANKEE LIBERALS OUT OF OUR SOUTHERN CITIES AND RETURN THEM CITIES TO US!!! REAL GSU FOREVER IS OUR BATTLE CRY!!!

Itsmeagain

December 21st, 2011
9:38 pm

Lol @ Atlanta native. Tell yourself whatever you need to to take away some of the sting tomorrow night

quan

December 21st, 2011
10:08 pm

we will crush gaso and will not look back. a blip on the radar at best.
go panthers

Atlanta Native

December 21st, 2011
10:13 pm

@itsmeagain

First of all, the game hasn’t been played yet.

IF the Eagles lose, there’s no sting in a loss on hardwood…..Puhleese! Basketball is a sport for schools who can’t play football.

GSUBB

December 21st, 2011
10:35 pm

…and FCS is for schools who cannot play big boy football. Six “titles” and still sitting at the kid’s table.
ahahhahahahhahaha

Atlanta Native

December 21st, 2011
10:41 pm

As Erk used to say, six is more than zero. What has Ga. State ever accomplished? Don’t have to think too long on that one….nothing.

BTW, I believe Ga. State is at the “kids table” as well.

jerk russell

December 21st, 2011
11:33 pm

Shhhh don’t tell anyone but I have showered a time or two with a couple of recruits.

GSUBB

December 21st, 2011
11:44 pm

A temporary stop at the kid’s table. You are the mayor of it. Congrats.

GState

December 22nd, 2011
10:13 am

Let’s be honest. Until we can compete in football, all we really have to brag about is basketball. Pretty sad, actually.

Rupertisthe devil

December 22nd, 2011
1:56 pm

One of the few times that someone outside of the schools has commented on the growing rivalry. Nothing brings people together like hating somebody else. Time to go bird hunting! Go GSU!

Blue Eagle

December 22nd, 2011
4:19 pm

“A temporary stop at the kid’s table. You are the mayor of it. Congrats.”

When Ga. State leaves the kid’s table the only thing y’all will be carrying with you is a lot of embarrassing losses!

When y’all get to the “big time” all that you will have to look forward to is losing to the “really big time” teams and if y’all get lucky maybe you get to play in some mediocre bowl game that very few care about.

Good luck in the “mid-major” “big time” if only y’all could experience the thrill of the FCS playoff with a legimate chance of winning a National Championship of a group of over 100 schools y’all might realize the real “big time” for you is the FCS!

GSU_2012

December 22nd, 2011
6:03 pm

Good luck tonight panthers. Really wish I could be there.

English

December 22nd, 2011
8:51 pm

GSU 36
Them 23

Halftime.

Pennsylvania CAA Fan (Carpetbagger)

December 22nd, 2011
10:15 pm

See above. Was I correct with my James Dickey reference? I still think the guy is pulling my leg. There is no way a college grad (I presume) is referencing the civil war some 150 years after the fact. Joke is on the out of towner right?

Georgia Southern Eagle

December 22nd, 2011
10:15 pm

Let go Georgia Southern Eagle!!!

GA Southern is terrible.

December 22nd, 2011
10:17 pm

Just as I thought we bit the crap out of them. Not been a good week for the Eagles. First you lose to North Dakota and now you lose by 20 points to Ga State.
20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points v

GA Southern is terrible.

December 22nd, 2011
10:17 pm

20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points v

GA Southern is terrible.

December 22nd, 2011
10:18 pm

20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points

GA Southern is terrible.

December 22nd, 2011
10:18 pm

20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points 20 points

GSUEagle

December 22nd, 2011
11:15 pm

6 National Championships > 0 National Championships
Semifinals of the FCS Playoffs > 3-8 and losing to NAIA schools

Sure, you’ve got our number in basketball, but this is the south. Football is king.

GSUUSOCCER

December 22nd, 2011
11:23 pm

@GASoEagle

Whatever make you feel better about going to a subpar university is fine by me and the rest of the GSU Panther Nation.

Great win tonight by the GSU Panthers and Ron Hunter, such a great way to end the 2011 year. A 20 point win over GASo and setting a school record 9 wins in a row.

I hope that we continue this success in 2012 by starting off with over Drexel, the CAA preseason favorite, and move on to the rest of the CAA schedule with a 10 game win streak.